Shelf Life.

This has to be my best excuse for failing to prod the ‘hog lately. I need to share with you my experiences of extreme tentage in Wales surrounded by beautiful views and many varied flavours of rain and cold. Because soon either the memory will fade, or the counselling will kick in.

There’s a new sport I’d like your views on as well. It’s like a triathlon for pussies – not the feline kind either although maybe that could be something we’d like to consider.

But I’ve been putting up a non ironic shelf which seems to have taken me around three days on and off. It is a thing of beauty, and you’ll be unsurprised to hear some of the delay may have been caused by my not listening to good advice. In my defence, my deafness was due – in part – to the roar of revving powertools. The Jigsaw has taken the number one spot in my favourite tools of destruction.

Shelf wasn’t in the house of course. No, it was another one for the workshop and involved much crouching under benches and smacking lightly thatched bonces on the vice handle. So awed was I with something that ended up level-ish and still there the next morning, I’ve moved on to something even more complex.

I am beginning to think of it as sculptural art. Sort of industrial wood-chic if you will. And if you won’t, well fair enough but once it’s done, I’ll be back although with less machine guns and wooden acting that Arnie. Someone told me he’s Governor of California? Pah what a jest, next thing you’ll be trying me on that we’re releasing terrorists so BP can ruin some more of the planet.

I’m not as green as tha’ cabbage is painted I’ll have you know.

The hedgehog is unwell.

Much to tell, too much snot and general unwellness means it’ll have to wait. Until then, I suggest you all buy Lemsip shares and make a fortune. I’m considering just injecting the bloody things directly into a vein.

I think two days in a cold, wet and muddy field may be a contributing condition to my current malaise. I fully expect within the next day or so to a) shuffle off this mortal coil or b) soldier on, barely complaining *while creating the European snot lake.

Until then, did I mention CLIC was a bit horrible? And yet I find myself thinking that I may again be stupid enough to try again next year. I think I must have OD’d on a mixed bag of cold remedies.

* on the gounds that sympathy is significantly lacking in the Leigh household 🙁

What can you acheive in three years?

Some great public works? The creation of a much admired business enteprise? A trip to all four corners of the earth* maybe? Any of these things has so much more worth than over a thousand day’s of nonsense that makes up this blog.

3 years since I wrote this. 2 years since I said I was stopping and a year since I realised I’d already said everything twice, but no one seemed to have notice. Someone once said “every person has one book in them” and – while they may be right – that’s really where it should stay. The only thing you can charitably say about individuals exposing their vanity electronically is they’re not wasting any real paper, and only wasting their own time.

Not much more to add other than a thousand thanks to Andy who hosts the site and puts up my dumb questions and occasional mass deletions. And a reply to those of you – who clearly also have time to waste – asking what all the random characters are in the archived posts.

At first I thought you meant my friends. Then I mused it was merely lazy spelling and zero proof reading, but on further investigation it seems one of the interminable upgrades has morphed ‘ to %$%^%X. I’m seeing it as a bit of an improvement, and with 300 posts to edit, it has a resolution priority just below counting the hairs on the dog.

Later this week, I shall bore you with a non ironic post heavily detailed in the joy of plumbing. 42 this year, which must mean I am due to understand the meaning of life. And possibly plumbing.

In the meantime, the hedgehog rocks on!

* What is that all about? It’s ROUND. 3 years on and this stuff still annoys me.

Out of Africa…

.. and rather pleased about it. There are many things about the place (Jo-Burg especially) which I’ll miss not at all. For example, the barbed wire topped residential conclaves housing the white middle class and guarded by armed black guards. H’mm can’t see that ending well in any revolution.

The endless panhandling wasn’t much of a thrill either. Their is a strong directive not to drop a few coins into the hand of a young mother who is using the other one to cradle a hungry looking baby. The argument advanced is to donate to one desperate person will merely attract many more to the same spot tomorrow.

But this is missing the point, surely? The solution must be for the state to provide a safety-net for these young black – and of course they all are black – women. But get into that conversation and a whole slew of barely contained anger laments the state of the country, the way in which it is run and the feeling that it is no longer fair. That’s from the white minority of the population, obviously.

The end of apartheid was so obviously something to rejoice, and yet it doesn’t feel like it has quite gone away. Anyway such weighty debate is not really at home on the hedgehog, so I’ll leave you with this. I never really felt safe out there but what really bothered me was it seemed no one else did either. Not just the constant threat of low level violence (with counter measures you couldn’t make up), but the underlying friction of many different social groups all feeling as if they were the victims.

In completely unrelated news, the site just had another update, after a benevolent hack that probably was exploited through an ancient version of code from someone even lazier than me on this shared server. I don’t think it has enbusted anything but if so, consider it custom code 😉

Car Hire..

… South African Style. Aside from the cheery note “Driving in SA is as safe as any other country BUT DO NOT ON ANY ACCOUNT UNLOCK YOUR DOORS, LOOK AT ANYONE IN A FUNNY WAY, OR PARK ANYWHERE THAT IS NOT SURROUNDED BY A SWAT TEAM” from the South African Tourist board, there was also this nugget of usefulness:

At a 4-way stop intersection, vehicles from all 4 directions must stop at the stop sign before proceeding to cross the intersection. With more vehicles stopping at the intersection, the rule is first one to stop is first one to move. If vehicles stop at the same time, common courtesy applies and either vehicle may proceed first.”

Now I’m English and multi skilled in queuing so I am going to be there for DAYS. “No, No after you, I’m fine here and anyway you’ve got a gun rack, so that definitely gives you priority

Due to almost everybody flying to Johannesburg this weekend, my journey to our office starts at midday tomorrow and finishes sometime early Sunday morning. There are many things I love about living here, but I will concede that Birmingham is not a proper international Airport.

South Africa?” replied the shocked looking travel person “From Birmingham?” “Weeeel, you could if you left last Tuesday and are happy to cross Nigeria by Camel“. That’ll be a trip to Heathrow then, with an alledged upside that the Virgin lounge is like no other on the planet.

Apparently you can even get a haircut. Well that’s clearly sold it for old “MonkTop” back here.

So look after the old Hedgy while I am away. I shall be suffering in 28 degrees, under Summer sunshine situated in a hotel with an outdoor pool and bar. And probably being car jacked, worked to within an inch of my being, and crashing into innocent citizens as I attempt to orientate the map on the steering wheel.

I can’t put the tree back..

… because it doesn’t work with this version. Try and leave a comment and there’s some kind of internal explosion which renders the whole shebang at the dark end of properly buggered.

I’ve pulled back from the Athena nastiness of earlier. Ironically this theme only seems to work properly in Satan’s Browser, so for those of you with a product not owned by the evil empire, the picture at the top is behind the whitespace.

It’s a problem that keeps giving, you have to wait for it to load, but you never get to see it. I have absolutely no idea how to fix it, nor do I intend to spend anytime doing so. At times like this, it’s important to set expectations, because if you think this is bad, go check out the BBC “Market Report”.

I’ve emailed them and suggested it is rendered in a deep blood-coloured red 😉

EDIT: Oh it seems I can. The latest version works but we’ve lost the archives. A small price to pay for such a populist move 😉 It’s going to change again tho. No point having a wide screen if you’re not going to use it.

Hedgehog v2..

. and a bit. 2.6.1 apparently. The upgrade wasn’t without some technical trauma. I was forced to use every trick of 20+ years hardcore computer skills to bring old hedgy back to life*. This included “installing the files in the right directory” and a somewhat embarrassing “Read the bloody instructions

I am awash in plug-ins and new features and all sorts of flashy shit that are probably soon to be filed under a bin marked “pointless marketing“. However, that’ll all have to wait for another lunch hour when boredom is the key feature.

In the meantime, the RSS feed should be unspammed and you’ll be delighted to hear the entire back catalogue of articles has been dumped to disk. Just think of the loss to the nation if we’d lost nearly three years of all this shit eh?

* up to and including “Waving the Lucky Chicken” over the keyboard. I can see the old IT sages nodding with me now.

Putting the GRRR into grumpy.

Apparently the best thing to do with problems is to sleep on them. Which I guess could work for wriggly girlfriends, but the myth of waking up with a perfect solution to a previously insoluble problem has always passed me by. Mainly because during a crisis of Al, I engage a furious single tasking mode that bypasses both sleep and food reflexes.

This has so far failed to provide a Eureka moment, but it has allowed me to take a slightly longer view of the problem. In fifteen years of car ownership, I have barely had a mechanical blip through a rambling pantheon of Marques and makes.  Looking backwards at money travelling in wheeled form, we see Honda, VW, VW, Audi, Audi, Ford, Vauxhall and Ford. What we do not see are any expensive repairs or levels of unexpected explosions.

And then we get to the Renault. A car so unreliable it once broke down seven times in a single 24 hour period. And then six more the following day. I was on first name terms with the AA man, and we both agreed it was not only a Friday afternoon car, it had been built by seventeen pissed Frenchmen using only hammers, chisels and random engine parts scavenged off a WWII tank.

The Boot Spoiler – before it fell off – proudly proclaimed this was the 16V SPORT CHAMARDE variant of a fine historical marque. It quickly became known as the “Commode” when the electrics first flickered and then failed, the radio ate a succession of tapes*, the brake discs cracked, and various trim and panels flew off dangerously as speeds approached the legal limit.

During the few times it wasn’t broken or refusing to start, it was hellish fun to drive. You never knew whether you’d get to your destination, but what fun trying to get there. I refused to exchange it for another pool car and spent many happy hours marooned on backwater verges, bonnet up and confused expression in place.

And then a Salesman with an IQ of petfood nicked it while I was on holiday, and drove it through a ford**. Obviously – being French – it retreated to the far bank and then spectacularly exploded, never to be revived. Since then my car ownership has been boring, conventional and – important point this – reasonably affordable.

But now the French are back to finish the job. My leaky intercooler is sealed using some kind of large hair crimp rather than a proper weld. This saves about $20c on manufacturing costs, but does have the slight downside that a good percentage of these oily radiators begin leaking, with fairly catastrophic effects for the now non lubricated turbo.

Nissan go with the Plausible Deniability defence pretending to be Ostrich’s and refusing to accept that a 1000 people on the Internet know they are liars. “Not a know problem sir” they trill, and refer you back to a dealer who has the smile of a man coming to the end of his personal credit crunch.

I know I’ll have to fix it. I’ve no idea how much it’ll cost, whether it’s all down to me, how long it’ll take or even when it can start. I am confident thought it’s going to provide the kind of eye watering, vein throbbing experience that calls for a stiff drink at regular intervals through the day.

To take my mind off the horror of all this, I was lucky enough to be summoned to London on the 5:53 from Ledbury this morning. After 10 minutes or reading the paper, I’ve decided that was way too scary so started worrying about my car again. And in doing so have made a stunning realisation: 21,200 miles, 36 months old and no problems. 21, 600 miles, 37 months old and properly broken.

Is this some kind of built obsolescence that carries the warranty period, and then guarantees future revenue for the accredited dealers? Sounds possible – maybe those Frenchies are a bit cleverer than I thought.

* Mainly Genesis and Duran, Duran. The local garage wag diagnosed the problem as the stereo being a bit of a music critic.

** A water one. Not a crazed attack on a competitor in a Sierra. Although it wouldn’t have been the first time

Stop Press!

Maybe I should. My mum – MY MUM FOR GOD’S SAKE – has just registered a comment:

should be cabbage looking, you forgot hold it under the cold tap or have a hot are excused your bad language as you have just cause.a week ago as a valued customer i was told i would be rung back in 24 hours by the manager i am still holding my breath.this is late because i could not access your blog. your disenchanted mum

See, here is me within drinking distance of 41 and still I’m being corrected by my mum! I don’t know what’s worse, my poor old* mother having to choose between being struck off by another rubbish ISP, or gaining access to hedgy roadkill on the Internet highway. Hobson would be doing his nut!

Anyway, all I need now is to find that woman I used to work for to have my quote corrected “No I didn’t say what little talent you had, I said what little bullshitting ability you had

😉 Chickens. To Roost. Home. Make a well known phrase if you must.

Oh Hi Mum! I’ll go fire up the blowtorch for talktalk.

* Not in the true use of the word here. Let’s all be clear. Mature like a good wine, that’s my mum. Not old.**

** Did I get away with that?